Zucchini Three Ways – Part 1: Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Not a lot of people get excited for zucchini. Most times I hear about it being bland and uninteresting, but I am here to challenge that assertion!

Last year one of my teammates joked (as he gave me three monstrous zucchini) that most gardens here are overrun with the things, and that from time to time the odd person can find a car load of zucchini as a joke. About 2 weeks ago I arrived to find two gigantic zucchini on my chair, and knew immediately who they were from! Each zucchini weighed about 30 oz EACH! For someone who doesn’t have a garden (but wishes she did), a gift of produce is a true gift, but I will admit that I didn’t ever get around to using last year’s before they went bad.

I did have to figure out how to use 5 lbs of zucchini though.

For the first event, we have Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting:

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Really delicious! The cake is flavorful, and you would never know there is zucchini in it, save for the odd speck of skin. To dispatch the zucchini quickly, I used my trusty Cuisinart food processor. And don’t forget to sift, sift, and sift again. I used Martha Stewart’s Sweet Zucchini Cupcake recipe for the cake (omitting the nuts as they were for a party). Also, and as another hint, I use an ice cream scoop to scoop my batter, which ensures the cupcakes have a fairly consistent size among them.

For the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (sifted, spooned and leveled)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts.

In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, and mix just until combined (do not overmix). Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes out, right side up, and cool completely. Meanwhile, make frosting.

*******

For the frosting, you will need 1 lb of room temperature butter, 3- 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature, and 1 lb of powdered/confectioners sugar, as well as a splash of vanilla extract.

Beat the butter, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar together until combined (start slow or you will wind up wearing most of the sugar!), and then add vanilla extract to taste. Frost with either an off set spatula, or with a piping tip of your choice. You will definitely have more frosting than you need, so you can either halve the recipe, or store the frosting in the fridge for another dessert.

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